Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Exercise in Self-Confidence

3 miles into our 12 mile run I felt like a slug.  Every time I looked at the Garmin it said anything from 9:00 – 9:12 pace and it felt tough.  Granted, this is a pretty typical pace for a long run but it normally feels easy, and I usually have the urge to speed up.  Earlier in the week I did a tempo run with 4.5 miles at 7:30 pace and that felt easier than this!

I tried not to let the extra effort take away from the beautiful run we were on.  It wasn't a trail run or an adventurous jaunt in the middle of nowhere, but it's a route I enjoy.  Angela and I ran from Mission Beach to La Jolla, where the seals reside.  The route took us down the hectic strip along the beach through a swanky neighborhood full of homes that make my jaw drop, time and time again. The residential portion of the run is hilly but the constant ocean breeze inhibits you from sweating up a storm. We made our way to the Children’s Park which is now the home of a colorful array of seals and turned back around.

On the way back to Mission Beach I suddenly felt more energized.  By the time we hit 9 miles and stopped for water I felt fabulous.  With 3 miles to go I wanted more.  I was wondering to myself how it is possible to feel fatigued at mile 3 and wound up at miles 9-12.  We sped up on the last mile and crossed our imaginary finish line by the Wave House.  I felt like I could go on at a fast pace.

This isn’t the first time I have felt significantly better toward the end of a run, so I started tossing around ideas in my head.  Maybe it takes me longer to warm up than most people.  Or, maybe knowing that I have many miles ahead brings about self-doubt and negative thoughts. The second scenario is probably more likely, which means I need to work on my attitude and self-confidence.  I bust out tempo runs to get faster, I do long runs to build endurance, I practice yoga to feel centered and limber, but self-confidence is its own entity.

Sometimes I repeat a mantra to myself in hopes that the message will sink into my stubborn brain and I will truly believe it.   Other times I play make-believe that I am running on a track at the Olympics waving at my adoring fans.  And sometimes it just takes a good, hard race to do the trick.  Last time I raced, it brought me up a notch on the confident scale.  I surprised myself, which means I didn't expect much in the first place.  Luckily the San Francisco Half Marathon is just around the corner and I hope to finish strong and fast.

After this Half Marathon I begin training for the Malibu International Marathon in November and I would like to ditch the self-doubt before I get into those 18 and 20 milers. 

Please help, fellow women & runners:

What helps build your self-confidence on long runs?

Generally speaking, what makes you feel strong, capable and self-assured?

Thanks Everyone!